In the run-up to Sunday’s general elections in Bangladesh, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday called for “an environment free of violence, intimidation and coercion” to allow a “peaceful, credible and inclusive poll.”
“All Bangladeshi citizens, including minorities and women, must feel safe and confident in exercising their right to vote,” Mr. Guterres said on Thursday.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of the ruling Awami League Party is seeking a third consecutive term, while her main rival for the top job, former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, who leads the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), remains in jail on corruption charges which she says were politically motivated.
According to news reports, political clashes have already left two campaign workers dead and dozens more injured.
“Civil society and electoral observers should be fully supported to play their role in the process,” stressed the UN chief.
While the BNP boycotted the 2014 election, it has said that it will participate this year in what will be the country’s 11th National Parliamentary Election.
The Secretary-General reiterated the UN’s continued commitment “to support a peaceful and democratic Bangladesh.”